Title: OFF BOOK
Author: Jessica Dall
Age Category: New Adult
Publication Date: April 2015
Written below are my opinions; you may let it influence you or you may not.
About The BOOK:
Twenty-year old Eloise, part of a world where characters are real, is sucked into a novel she was never meant to be part of. Now, caught where the only rules are made by authors and truly anything is possible, Eloise must find her way back home—or her life might end before she ever gets the chance to live it.
OFF BOOK explores the story beneath the stories, taking readers and characters alike on an adventure just waiting to be written.
THE THREE RS (Spoilers!)
She was obviously either your sister, best friend, or girlfriend.
There were several different worlds (more like genres, really) explored as Eloise moved from set to set. Each was well detailed, with different atmosphere and characters, igniting in me a need to see and know more. Unfortunately, Eloise's real world blanched in comparison. I did not fully grasp the concept of the world and the rules governing it. I had many questions because so many of the things I wanted to know were not adequately explained or explained at all and many things just didn't make sense to me.
How did this world come to be? Did the writing come first or the characters? Does it consist of all characters ever created or thought briefly about? In what capacity? What is the criteria for a character to exist in this world? What about fanfiction? How is this world able to sustain itself and its citizens, hypothesizing that it consists of every character ever thought of and these characters never age or die? Would it be expanding into infinity? How? Also, taking into account the ending, would more characters still show up? Why? How?
It was stated that "being assigned after twenty-two was rare" but there are so many books with characters over twenty-two that it doesn't make sense. It reeks of ageism. Sure, authors can age their characters, but if they write for adults, their characters would be that age to begin with, unless they wrote a prologue from the character's early years. Does that count? Would creating a back-story count?
Eloise was left at the School at three because her author abandoned her. First, how does that work? There were characters abandoned for over a decade and they weren't returned. Why was she at the School and not stuck in a story as a toddler? Barnaby states that "[the Recording Office} can reassign you if there's been no action on your story for more than three months." What happens afterwards? Does someone else take over the position? What if the author comes back after those three months?
Also, the "pre-story" thing confuses me because to be a character, you have to have a story even if it's not a completed one.
...Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.
I liked the characters (they were like-able, funny and smart) but I wanted to fall in love with them. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, and cursing at the authors, thanking them, and wondering why--why!--Eloise and these incredible set of characters had to go through this heart-wrenching experience. Instead, this was one of those times I wished a book had been longer, allowing for more world and character development.
I sort of fell into it because, I don't know, I just can't say no to him half the time...
Eloise and Columbine: Speaking as someone who wasn't her biggest fan, I think Columbine got the short end of the stick. She was loyal to Eloise and deeply cared for her but Eloise was quick to forget her. Example: Columbine found a way to contact Eloise while in-story (something that had never been done before) and Eloise never writes back (we weren't told she did). The only time Eloise does is because of her relationship problems (Girl, please!) and those letters were used as a time skip. Wouldn't it have been fantastic if, instead of accidentally stumbling into a story, Eloise had actively searched for a way to rescue Columbine instead?
Barnaby and Eloise: Not much to say except this relationship happened way too fast to be convincing. Once minute they were having dinner, the next they've been living together for months. Barnaby and Eloise as friends? Yes. Friends-with-benefits? I could see that. But as a couple? I wasn't feeling the chemistry.
I don't believe anyone has thought to rewire the feeds before.
Sure, you might say that's point, but...if the point is to shut down the sets, why is Eloise left in the dark? Wouldn't it work better if they had clued her in? Or the previous three before her? What is the purpose of keeping her in the dark? Also, if all they need was someone to shuttle people from set to set to destabilize the construct, wouldn't having more than one person doing this be beneficial? Also, the compass, where did it come from? Was it purposefully placed there for Eloise to find? If so, by whom?
So, here's the thing: I expected more. I wanted an epic adventure, not just Eloise skipping from set to set. I wanted something more fitting with the age category (this book is NA) and I feel like, except for the mention of sex and the implication that Barnaby and Eloise had sex, it was MG or mild YA. When I see anything "meta," I expected to be blown away (or, at the very least, to have very strong reaction to the subject). I wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I like the story, I just wasn't...invested.
If you're looking for a quick read with a plot; are interested in meta-fantasy; and favor generally like-able, smart characters who are not overtly mean or one-dimensional.
When she is offered a job at the Recording Office, instead, she takes the chance to write her own future. Suddenly living among the post-storied, Eloise meets Barnaby Fitzwilliam, a former romance novel hero who hasn’t lost any of his in-story charm. But just as their relationship begins to get serious, Eloise is sucked into a novel she was never meant to be part of, turning everything they thought they knew about their world upside down.
Now, caught where the only rules are made by authors and truly anything is possible, Eloise must find her way back home—or her life might end before she ever gets the chance to live it.
Set in an intriguing, unique world, OFF BOOK explores the story beneath the stories we all know and love, taking readers and characters alike on an adventure just waiting to be written.